@CWCB_DNR Water Availability Task Force: Central #Colorado creeping back into #drought — @colo_politics

From ColoradoPolitics.com (Marianne Goodland) via The Colorado Springs Gazette:

The Colorado Water Availability Task Force, which meets monthly, took a look this week at reservoir levels, precipitation and the all-important drought forecast.

Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported low-level drought in a sliver of southeastern Colorado, the northwestern corner of the state, and a bigger chunk of southwestern Colorado.

Reservoirs in southeastern and south-central Colorado were draining quickly because of dry conditions.

Average capacity for the seven reservoirs in the upper Rio Grande basin, which serves the San Luis Valley, was down to 40%.

The basin’s largest reservoir, Sanchez, near the town of San Luis, is well below 25% of capacity.

In the Lower Arkansas basin, reservoirs also have been drained; John Martin, where the 115 temperature was reported and the area’s largest reservoir, was just above 20% of capacity. Pueblo Reservoir was just above 60% of capacity.

This week, the central mountains were added to the list of areas headed back into drought, and the southwestern region went from the lowest-level drought to a slightly worse condition.

Colorado Drought Monitor August 27, 2019.

Russ Schumacher of the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University reported that precipitation in July was below normal for much of the state, save the Front Range, northeastern Colorado and small pockets around the state.

The typical monsoons expected in July and August have been something of a letdown except for some “very rainy spots on the plains,” the report said.

For August, however, temperatures are creeping up above normal for much of the Front Range, all the way to the New Mexico state line. Pueblo County has seen the brunt of that a heat, with a six-day run in August when the temperature exceeded 99 degrees every day.

The Climate Center is investigating a temperature of 115 degrees, recorded at John Martin Reservoir in Bent County. If it bears out, it would be the highest recorded temperature in state history. It could take a month to verify the reading, the center’s Noah Newman said.

The late start to summer is taking a toll on crops.

“Some agricultural producers are reporting that corn is behind schedule due to a late start to the season. They are optimistic that frost will not occur before the crops reach maturity,” the water task force reported…

There’s good news amid the dry summer: Most state reservoirs remain at or near capacity thanks to a heavy winter snowpack.

Don’t lose sight of what is happening across the western U.S. and particularly in the Colorado River Basin.

West Drought Monitor August 27, 2019.

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